Maria is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Galway
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I actually transferred to St. Ben's because I knew I wanted to gain global experience while still being able to complete my intended major in four years. I knew that studying abroad would widen my perspectives while allowing me to make connections with other Bennies and Johnnies that I would not have met. I decided on the Galway program for many reasons. I loved the idea of living in quaint cottages on the Galway Bay. Likewise, after hearing about the wonderful Foyle family, I was drawn into the program. I knew that I wanted to make lasting connections with those I met from Ireland. Finally, the Galway program has so many planned excursions that I knew I could leave Ireland feeling like I saw it all! And after a semester spent along side the Galway Bay, I can attest that transferring and deciding to journey to Galway was easily the most worthwhile decision of my college years thus far.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
It is required when abroad, to complete an experiential learning project. Myself and another Dietetics student decided to work in the Lodge's kitchen with Geraldine Foyle. Spending time with her and learning how to make Irish foods was easily a highlight of my semester. One afternoon, Geraldine asked us to help cater food at a funeral in Spiddal. She had prepared the food and all we need to do was deliver the food and arrange it on the tables. This seemed easy enough! But to our surprise, when we arrived everyone was speaking Irish and had no interest in speaking English with us! We pieced together their gestures and figured out where to place the food! That cultural experience placed me in a situation where I did not feel comfortable initially. Yet, after getting back to the kitchen I realized how exciting and empowering communicating in a different language is.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Wow. My overall experience was absolutely wonderful. I learned an incredible amount from the Foyle family, my professors and my fellow Bennies and Johnnies. The Foyle family at Park Lodge is unbelievably hospital and make you feel like the Lodge is your home. The excursions every weekend allowed me to see all of Ireland while applying what I learned in lecture that week to the historic and cultural sites on the weekend.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
While in Ireland I realized some of the benefits of being abroad, yet it wasn't until a few weeks back that it really sunk in. Studying abroad allowed me to really harness my love for exploration and learning. Learning and exploring are important to me in any aspect of life. Likewise, navigating winding cobblestone roads or asking locals directions instilled me a sense of confidence that I will carry through my school work and personal life. Finally, being abroad widened my view of the world. It has allowed me to understand some of the differences in the world. Understanding differences and learning how to work with them will significantly contribute to my professional career.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The choice to study abroad will be one of the most exciting decisions you will make at St. Ben's and St. John's. Do not be afraid to ask questions from those who have gone on different programs to find out what program seems like a good fit for you. Many times study abroad planning can seem stressful, between the application and purchasing plane tickets; don't let it stress you out! It is a wonderful experience. Before you know it, you will be back on campus after a wonderful semester filled with the same excitement as I am now!
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Galway? Email Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org